The longer I work with entrepreneurs, the more certain I am that the ability to succeed isn't strictly dictated by skill, creativity, and intellect. Things like integrity and personal behavior are at least as important as education and experience. 

Here are five personal  habits that you may want to kick to the curb for prosperity and  success to be yours.

1. You frequently use the words "I don't have time right now."

Important discussions and working with the numbers are two things I see entrepreneurs consistently put off until they have " ." When do you really have more time? Choices like these are not about time--they are about avoidance. I challenge my clients on this one by asking them to honestly assess how much time they spend doing things that aren't critical to growth, or that someone else could be doing for them. Inevitably the answer is--too much. 

Do this: Make a list of all of the things you've been putting off and select one or two things a week to accomplish. Talk to your employees about improving operations, upcoming changes, or how much you appreciate them. Take a careful look at your P&L and cash flow statements, and any other important metrics. And yes, spend some quality time with your children and take some down time. 

2. You let your mind drift when others are talking.

Many entrepreneurs have difficulty with focus, and there are pros and cons to that. The best ideas often come out of a daydream. When others are present, however, is not the time to let your mind drift. People need to be heard. They need to feel validated and valued. Both your personal and your professional connections will appreciate having your full attention--and you may be surprised by what you'll learn.

Do this: Maintain eye contact, be an active listener, not a passive listener, by showing a reaction every now and then: facial expressions, nods, offering appropriate feedback and asking questions (be careful about interrupting) and affirming (or debating) what they are saying. 

3. You ignore advice and ideas without consideration.

A few years ago a friend asked for my counsel about his failing business. After carefully examining all of the facts, I presented him with the difficult truth: It was time to sell to the competition before the business became worthless. Without a moment of thought, my friend pushed the idea away, preferring to wait for a magic bullet. That miracle never happened. Two years later, he lost not only the business, but everything he owned. 

Do this: Everyone has an opinion, but you know which opinions and advice to heed and which to discard? Deep down inside, my friend knew that I was correct in my assessment, but he was afraid and wanted to keep the dream alive. Before you choose to ignore an idea or suggestion, no matter how bizarre it seems, give it a good once-over--with your brain and your heart. 

4. You believe that to get something done right you have to do it yourself.

This is a classic issue for many entrepreneurs. It's similar to avoiding the opinions and advice of others since it's grounded in the same belief: that only you have the right answers. If, for instance, your employees don't always do things the way you want them done, consider that there may be another way to produce the same, or a similar, outcome. It's also possible that you haven't taken the time to train them properly (since you don't have enough time). 

Do this: What is common sense to you is not always apparent to another. When assigning projects or training a new employee, go over every detail and have them take notes. If you're still not satisfied (make sure you aren't being overly controlling), resist the temptation to do it yourself. Provide feedback and hand it right back to the other person.

5. You ignore the needs of your body.

Poor decisions, exhaustion, moodiness, and diminished health are only a few of the unwanted effects of ignoring the needs of your body. At the very minimum, this includes sleep, nutrition, exercise, and time out. In her New York Times best-selling book,  The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington says, "We are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis, and this has profound consequences--on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness." 

Do this: Pay attention to what your body is telling you, keep track of your eating and sleep habits, and notice how you feel as they fluctuate. If you fall back on the I-don't-have-enough-time excuse, track your  productivity levels as you improve your personal habits. I guarantee that time will be on your side. 

Tell us about a habit that you've successful shaken off. How has it changed your life and business?

Published on: Aug 8, 2016
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